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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

General Richard Myers Holds Media Availability

Aired August 24, 2003 - 07:57   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you to Washington now. We have General Richard Myers standing by, talking with reporters on what we call a stakeout. Let's go ahead and listen in.
GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: ... just a couple of hours south of Baghdad, how they're helping communities down there. I mean, we're going to keep doing what we're doing. The majority of the Iraqi people are absolutely with us. They want a better life. They don't want a life of terror or torture for their families and their friends. They want a better life, and they can certainly have one, and the international community is going to help them do that.

QUESTION: So you don't think we need more troops or U.N. help?

MYERS: I think what we need is -- we've got a very big international contingent there right now. We've got 35 countries that are contributing troops to the security situation. We've got 14 other countries that are thinking about that. We've got the U.N. involved, and they're back up, by the way, and in business.

Talk about some courageous folks. Saturday, they opened their tents again for business in Baghdad, after that terrible, tragic attack.

We've got Iraqis helping. We have 50,000 Iraqis that are armed with us, that we've trained, that are helping protect the infrastructure, that are part of the police force, that are a part of the civil defense force. That's a lot more Iraqis on our side than the ones that are armed trying to attack us, and oh by the way attack Iraqis, not just (UNINTELLIGIBLE) coalition.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MYERS: I think I've said -- I'm not, you know, the one we rely on on whether or not we need more troops is General Abizaid. He's the combatant commander. He's on the ground. He spends most of his time in the theater, and much of that inside Iraq. He's the one that the secretary of defense, the president and I listen to in terms of what he needs. Right now, he thinks he has enough U.S. troops.

We would like to have a third multinational division. And that's not a secret. We've been working that for some time now. We have two multinational divisions in there right now, one led by the U.K., one led by Poland. We need a third one in there. And that would -- that would be of assistance. QUESTION: General, two questions. First, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) today that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is launching a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Pentagon policies (UNINTELLIGIBLE) U.S. forces without adding U.S. troops? You've already said that we're spread thin. Can you elaborate upon the potential Pentagon policy (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and, also, comment on how we can do it without adding troops?

MYERS: I'm a little confused on the Pentagon policy review that you referenced there. It has to do with?

QUESTION: "The New York Times" reporting that Rumsfeld is launching a major review of Pentagon policy (UNINTELLIGIBLE) U.S. forces without adding troops.

MYERS: It's catching me cold. I'm unaware of that. I have not seen that particular article.

QUESTION: I'll go to my second question.

MYERS: OK, please.

QUESTION: OK. Today, also, "The Washington Post" talks about recruiting agents of the Iraqi Intelligence Service to help I.D. resistance to American forces in Iraq. Can you elaborate on this and also comment on if there's a risk in cooperating (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

MYERS: Well, a couple of things. First of all, to my knowledge -- and I've only seen the headline -- but to my knowledge, that's not going on. And it's important for people to realize that it's important for us and the Iraqis -- and particularly for the Iraqis to take responsibility for their country.

And so we encourage them to do that. We collaborate -- the coalition and international community collaborates with them to do that. But you can be assured we're not going to collaborate with folks that were associated with the former regime and the torture, the degrading way they treated their people, that climate.

We're not going to associate ourselves with those people. They're finished.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) too thin. What do you think has to be done? We need a draft or what?

MYERS: I've not said we're stretched too thin. I don't think anybody -- we are very busy right now. Our forces are stretched. But after all, this is a nation at war.

We are at war, and it's a different kind of war than World War II. So sometimes it's hard standing here in Washington, D.C. to understand exactly how important this fight is. And I certainly don't think the draft is an issue.

I mean, recruiting -- up to now, the recruiting and retention and most of the indicators we look at that tell how we're doing is fine. In fact, we're meeting all our goals in both the reserve component and the active side. So there are no indicators out there at this time -- and that could change in the future, of course -- but at this time that we're not going to be able to meet our goals through the all- volunteer force, which has served us I think very, very well.

Thank you all. Thanks very much.

COLLINS: General Richard Myers addressing reporters there in Washington, D.C., after he makes a few appearances on the morning talk show circuit for this Sunday morning. Talking a little bit about the issue of the military and whether or not he thinks it is stretched quite thin in different global confrontations across this country -- across the world, that is.

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